Like the analog aircraft instrumentation, which inspired this watch’s design, functionality takes precedence over unnecessary embellishment—aside from the small AOPA logo on the face. Even the crown and dual pushers are slightly oversized to provide quick and easy access to the main functions, even when wearing gloves. The bidirectional bezel aligns perfectly and mirrors the full set of Arabic numerals around the face and provides five solid and satisfying clicks between each.
If you’ve ever recapped an empty water bottle, you understand the effects of altitude and pressure changes on sealed objects—which is why Jack Mason opted for an acrylic crystal rather than mineral glass. This material provides slight flexibility and keeps the watch face virtually shatterproof. To hold the watch securely on your wrist, it is fitted with a handsome brown Italian-leather band with hand-sewn details and satin black buckle matching the case. In person, the color combination is visually striking and seems to further this timepiece’s aviation DNA.
On the wrist, this watch is solid—you will not forget you’re wearing it (which I personally like). The 45-millimeter black steel case and black face combine the main movement with 12-hour, 30-minute, and 60-second subdials. The easy-to-read white-on-black markings utilize a combination of high-quality Swiss Super-LumiNova luminescent paint and harmless tritium isotope tubes, giving the markers a 25-year glow for those nighttime flights. Inside the case, a Ronda Caliber 5030.D keeps time. This Swiss-made chrono movement utilized by many luxury brands is well known for its accuracy and dependability. To assure that accuracy in the highly magnetic environment of an aircraft cockpit, Jack Mason has shrouded the movement in a soft iron cage to prevent interference.
“With a whole cadre of AOPA pilots giving their input, we helped create a watch that is actually made by and for pilots,” said Jiri Marousek, senior vice president of marketing for AOPA. “We also intentionally gathered suggestions from pilots who fly different airplanes and missions to help Jack Mason create a watch that can serve in any cockpit.”
Whether it’s mountain flying in the Idaho backcountry or dinner with friends at a downtown restaurant, the AOPA Watch by Jack Mason feels right at home. And while it has all the features you’d expect to find in a timepiece of this quality, the watch’s unpretentious and useful design makes it an instant classic you’ll be proud to own for years to come.
The AOPA Watch by Jack Mason costs $599.
— By AOPA Senior Photographer Chris Rose